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Homeland Security to Collect Social Media Data on All Immigrants Including Naturalized US Citizens

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Invasion of Privacy?

A new rule due to be implemented on October 18 by the Department of Homeland Security which allows DHS to collect complete social media information on all immigrants has privacy and civil libertarian advocacy groups alarmed. The rule goes beyond would-be visitors to the U.S. and would also apply to those who have already obtained a green card or gone through the naturalization process.

The rule also directly impacts U.S. citizens who communicate with immigrants on social media by making their conversations the subject of government surveillance according to Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Speaking with a journalist from Buzzfeed Monday, Schwartz said, “We see this as part of a larger process of high tech surveillance of immigrants and more and more people being subjected to social media screening. There’s a growing trend at the Department of Homeland Security to be snooping on the social media of immigrants and foreigners and we think it’s an invasion of privacy and deters freedom of speech.”

One immigrant rights advocate who declined to be identified labeled the new rule as “one more step on the way to the slippery slope by the U.S. government in abrogating its constitutional mandate to uphold the rights and civil liberties of Americans.”  Calling it an unprecedented move, the advocate told NCRM, “Blanket social media screening of permanent residents and naturalized citizens is a clear invasion of privacy and violates peoples’ freedom of speech and expression. This rule suggests an attempt to both limit immigration and silence political dissent among those who strongly disagree with Trump’s policies, particularly his singling out those of the Muslim faith.”

A report issued last February by DHS’s own inspector general found that all of the DHS pilot programs for using social media to screen immigration applicants “lack criteria for measuring performance to ensure they meet their objectives.”

“Although the pilots include some objectives, such as determining the effectiveness of an automated search tool and assessing data collection and dissemination procedures, it is not clear DHS is measuring and evaluating the pilots’ results to determine how well they are performing against set criteria,” the report reads.

This past May the administration had implemented a new questionnaire for use by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs requiring all visa applicants to disclose social media handles for the past five years, as well as biographical information going back 15 years.

Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s liberty and national security program, said this is yet another fad, started by the Obama administration, fueled by the belief that social media is going to help the U.S. stop an attack in the country.

“It’s very difficult to successfully use social media to determine what people are going or not going to do,” Patel told BuzzFeed News. “When you look at all the different ways in which we use communication tools, and social media is pretty different, very truncated. People use emojis, they use short form, sometimes it’s difficult to know what something means.”

The rule is slated to go into effect after the public comment period has ended.

Reporting by Brody Levesque for NCRM, Buzzfeed News, and Reuters

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

Image by Animated Heaven via Flickr and a CC license

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Every House Republican But One Just Voted to Shut Down the Federal Government

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212 House Republicans – all who voted but one – voted to shut down the entire federal government Thursday evening. It was an act that would have massive implications for many Americans, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of a new variant, and as the holiday travel season quickly approaches.

The continuing resolution passed 221-212 thanks solely to Democrats and Republican Adam Kinzinger.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia “was speaking for virtually her entire conference,” Axios reporter Andrew Solender said in a tweet, when she demanded, “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene angrily cried . “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” she continued, claiming they “don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

The crisis is not yet over. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where a small group of Republicans, and currently it appears Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, are demanding Democrats “defund” President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Stay tuned.
 

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Watch: Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls for Government Shutdown Because ‘The People in Here Cannot Control Themselves’

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Congress has about 30 hours to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to allow the federal government to stay open past Friday midnight. And while nearly everyone is on board, from President Joe Biden to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, some powerful members of Congress are trying to prevent the CR from passing.

They include Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who oppose vaccine mandates and are trying to include an amendment to “defund” President Biden’s executive order.

And then there’s Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just wants to shut it down.

Literally, those were her words: “shut it down.”

“This government should be shut down,” Greene said minutes ago on the House floor, as Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports. “Do not pass this CR. Shut it down.”

Why is Greene demanding a full federal government shutdown?

“Because the people in here cannot control themselves,” declared Greene, who was stripped of all her committee assignments almost immediately upon being sworn in to Congress. “The people in here don’t understand how to balance a checkbook.”

According to information from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget shutting down the federal government could force TSA and air traffic controllers to work without pay, and could halt new applications for federal assistance like Medicare, and halt EPA and FDA inspections – possibly leading to massive illness on top of the coronavirus pandemic, amid the emergence of the new omicron variant.

That’s just for starters.

New mortgage and loan approvals could be halted as the IRS would be unable to verify Social Security numbers, and people who receive food stamps could lose that vital source of funds.

 

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Joe Manchin Appears to Be Siding With Republicans Who Are Pushing to Shut Down the Government Over Vaccine Mandates

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‘Quickly Turning Into a Joe Manchin Rodeo’

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is being described as the necessary and “most likely” the “51st vote” for shutting down the federal government over President Joe Biden’s vaccine “mandate.” Republicans, especially Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, are working to pass an amendment that would ban vaccine mandates nationwide, in exchange for voting to keep the federal government open, just weeks before Christmas.

Sen. Mike Lee, a far right pro-Trump Christian conservative from Utah, “wants an amendment to strip money from vax mandates at 50-vote threshold.” says Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman. “If he gets it, he’ll consent to speed up proceedings, which would likely — almost certainly — avoid a shutdown.”

If he doesn’t, it’s possible the federal government could shut down on Friday.

The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says “as with most things round these parts, this is quickly turning into a Joe Manchin rodeo.”

CNN’s Manu Raju adds that Sen. Manchin “doesn’t rule out supporting [an] amendment to DEFUND vaccine mandate on businesses. This is why Republican Sens. Marshall and Lee are demanding a 51-vote threshold. Says he backs mandate on feds but tells us he’s ‘less enthused’ with business mandate.”

At CNN Raju and other reporters explain the situation:

Key negotiators from both parties announced a plan Thursday morning that would keep the federal government funded, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, and a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.

Stay tuned.

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